Wrapping Up 2010 SEC Media Days: Turkey Insemination, Pimps And Profanity

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2010 SEC Media Days: We Recap The Top Five Moments From 2010

We review the top five moments from SEC Media Days with Dennis Pillion of AL.com. Robbie Caldwell, as you imagine, figures prominently in our rankings.

Top five moments from SEC Media Days 2010
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2010 SEC Media Days: LSU Coach Les Miles Opens His Campaign For Re-Election Early

LSU coach Les Miles opened his campaign for re-election in Birmingham on Saturday, or at least it felt like the opening stop of a campaign tour. Skipping all pleasantries, Miles dove right into a detailed description of how happy his kids, his wife, and third-person Les Miles are in their current situation in Baton Rouge.

The summer went well. The coach enjoyed following his kids’ youth sports, and camp season just underway and got concluded. Had two boys in that that had some great experiences. I don’t know if I can go by the fact that my family’s prospering in Baton Rouge….. I’m in Baton Rouge’s debt. The family is growing well. I am enjoying how they’re maturing. I can tell you, it’s wonderful to represent LSU.

Miles then launched into a detailed defense of his immigration policies, his opinions on activist judges, and the need to curb spending. Or clock management and the use of Russell Shepherd. Or something like that. Really, it needed a backdrop not covered with the SEC logo, but with “MILES: JOBS, PROSPERITY, AND SECURITY,” so completely stumpworthy was his speech.

Of all the coaches’ presentations during the three days of Media Days, the two most off-key—or at least dramatically different—presentations came from Steve Spurrier and Les Miles. Both swagger-heavy coaches came to the podium in startlingly different postures from their usual confident strut. Spurrier sounded like a man realizing his window for success was closing; Miles, in contrast, sounded like a man who understands his job is on the line this year.

He did not sound like a man who wanted to lose that job. He “likes this team.” He thinks they’re faster off the edge than they’ve been in a long time. Miles believes Jordan Jefferson has a deeper understanding of the offense and will be allowed more control than he had last year. The LSU coach said defenses will be called on the field now that everyone understands John Chavis’ defense. In short, this sounds from Miles’ comment like a team that should be far more coordinated on the field. Everything is under control. Do not panic. Do not adjust the horizontal or the vertical, because Les Miles is under control.

The emphasis on stumping for his own command peaked when i asked him about clock management, the most embarrassing and public of LSU’s public meltdowns last year.

We went through some of the situations we went through last fall. That did not go beyond my scrutiny. I scrutinized the coaching – me and others. I can promise you that those situations, some of those situations I’d never run into in coaching. Some of those situations I was, even though prepared for, had not envisioned the time constraints. So what we’ve done is we’ve added that to our game week preparation…

We just feel like the teaching of the situation and the understanding of the situation is more important. If you looked back over the time here, the number of games that we’ve won in two-minute situations, we need to re-up the understanding of what must happen in some of those clock management situations, both as players and coaches.

It’s not just lip service. You know, we’ve changed.

That capper is PR 101 right there, and a far cry from the man with the “damn strong football team” that strutted to a BCS title in 2007. It’s re-election time in Louisiana, and Miles is down in the polls. Ironically, elections happen in November, just when LSU swings through their final gauntlet of Alabama, Ole Miss, and Arkansas. So much depends on those games in winning over the hearts and minds of Louisiana State fans deciding whether or not to re-elect their behatted football Governor.

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2010 SEC Preseason Poll: Alabama Picked To Repeat As Conference Champs

2010 might feel a lot like 2009, if the media's predictions for the SEC bear out. Alabama was picked to both win the SEC West -- receiving 157 of 177 votes -- and the conference, with the Tim Tebow-less Florida Gators the favorites in the SEC East, receiving 153 of 177 votes respectively, according to Tidesports.com.

Cannon-armed Ryan Mallett and the rest of the Arkansas Razorbacks are expected to make big strides in the SEC West after being picked second in the division, with Auburn, LSU, Mississippi State and Ole Miss rounding the list. In the East, Mark Richt's Georgia squad is favored to finish right behind Florida, followed by South Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee and Vanderbilt.

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2010 SEC Media Days: Houston Nutt Is Excited (As Usual)

Houston Nutt’s excited. Houston Nutt is awesome. Houston Nutt is full of passion. None of things are unusual if you’re familiar with the services conducted by the Right Reverend Nutt, the Old Miss coach whose optimism is boundless even in a year when the Rebels lost their quarterback, a good chunk of their offensive line, their leading rusher, receiver, and both starting cornerbacks to the NFL.

(Note: even when discussing this, Nutt made sure to mention where each of his players was in the NFL. Never, ever stop recruiting, SEC Coach-dudes.)

The words Houston Nutt likes most were used. The leadership from defensive linemen Jerrell Powe has been “awesome,” though perhaps not as awesome as the nearly seventy pounds Powe has lost since arriving on the Ole Miss campus. Kentrell Lockett “Is what a defensive end looks like,” another Nutt classic used in describing Ole Miss’s most threatening defensive end. Passion was invoked on multiple occasions; excitement surrounded everything, and lots of things “kept (Nutt) up in the middle of the night,” though the inexperienced offensive line seemed to loom large in his sights as a principal source of midnight worry.

In the midst of this greatest hits parade of Nutt phrases, he also spoke about Ole Miss’s implosion last year in the Thursday night debacle at South Carolina.

It was a very difficult schedule to go from Saturday to Thursday night, especially no matter where you play in the SEC, each stadium is the best in the country, the atmosphere. South Carolina is awesome on Thursday night. When that bubble popped, that’s where you better have some ‘Dr. Phil’ in ya. You better be ready to go, to help your team, because expectations are so high.

Not the case this year, something Nutt seemed visibly relieved not to be discussing. If you’re wondering about the mascot controversy, by the way, don’t ask Houston Dale. He doesn’t care and hasn’t been paying attention.

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2010 SEC Media Days: Tennessee's Derek Dooley Serves You For 45 Minutes Straight

A Tennessee reporter introduced himself. I forget his name. Let’s call him Tumbleweed Higgins of the Johnson City Crass-Register.

“Coach Dooley, Tumbleweed Higgins of the Johnson City Crass-Register—”

Dooley cuts him off before he could finish.

“Hey, I know who you are. Are you introducing yourself to the people around you?”

(Laughter.)

Derek Dooley adjudicated himself well in his first appearance at SEC Media Days, moving with a lawyerly agility and patience through an array of potentially irksome questions. Did he have anything to say about the state Lane Kiffin left the program in? (No, he did not, an answer he handily rephrased four or five times throughout the proceedings.) Did he talk to his legendary father about his new job? (Asked three or four times in different variations, and answered best with “I use him the most when I have to make tough decision, which is all the time.”) Was his mother going to wear orange? (“I knew she’d made her decision when she came into a Big Orange Caravan event wearing an orange boa.”)

All potentially noxious/irritating/repetitive questions, sure, but Dooley breezed through with a litigator’s flair. Clay Travis attempted to ask him about the move from the “stable” profession of being a lawyer to coaching. Dooley objected to the question and had it stricken from the record immediately.

“Are you crazy? Lawyering? Stable?”

Substantively, Dooley did get a bit into x’s and o’s, saying that Matt Simms was indeed the starter coming out of spring and that his physical and emotional maturity had much to do with it. He also tempered expectations throughout his session in the key of Churchill: he had nothing to say about preseason rankings showing the Vols fifth in the SEC East, made no projections, and simply said that “competing for sixty minutes was the priority” in what will likely be a very, very rough year for a young and uneven Tennessee squad that’s already had a tumultuous offseason.

The most telling quote from today’s session:

We’ve certainly had our bumps along the way, and we’ll continue to have them.

Derek Dooley has nothing to offer you but blood, sweat, and tears, Tennessee fans. Fortunately that’s two more things than his predecessor gave them, so consider it an improvement. Counselor Dooley is, after all an attorney, and appears to be saving his judgments until after the evidence of the season is revealed.

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2010 SEC Media Days: Auburn's Gene Chizik Plays Possession Ball

Gene Chizik spoke at length about his plans to make Auburn more consistent, and how they needed more consistency, and about how if they consistently wanted to win consistently they needed to consistently practice with consistency to make things consistent on the field in a consistent manner. Consistently, of course.

The second year coach did lean on a certain word, but the issue last year for Auburn was defense, and Chizik’s answer to the question of how to improve was just that: consistency. Chizik himself was certainly consistent, giving long-winded Tresselspeak in response to questions while occasionally mentioning his “long-term vision” for the Auburn program. As an SEC coach, having a “long-term vision” is either rank foolishness or brash optimism, but in a charitable mood this morning we’ll assume the latter and not the former.

Otherwise he said little of substance and otherwise executed a perfectly safe routine of bland coachspeak. If his long-term survival is dependent on giving nothing in the way of quotable speech, Chizik is the new Joe Paterno.

Sixth-year DB Aairon Savage did at least color up the festivities with a stunning seersucker coat and bowtie, and for that we thank him.

First-year coach Derek Dooley and his immobile hair follow.

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2010 SEC Media Days: Auburn, Tennessee, Ole MIss, and LSU

2010 SEC Media Days finish up today, and while no one will likely equal Robbie Caldwell's turkey-inseminating grandeur, we do have a full slate today. Bonus! Auburn's Aairon Savage has thrown down the fashion gauntlet by wearing a seersucker jacket and bowtie, making himself the Andre 3000 of the festivities today. 

The schedule, ladies and gentlemen: 

AUBURN: Coach Gene Chizik Players: OT Lee Ziemba, LB Josh Bynes, DB Aairon Savage

TENNESSEE: Coach Derek Dooley Players: TE Luke Stocker, DE Chris Walker, LB Nick Reveiz

OLE MISS: Coach Houston Nutt Players: DT Jerrell Powe, DE Kentrell Lockett, OT Bradley Sowell

LSU: Coach Les Miles Players: QB Jordan Jefferson, LB Kelvin Sheppard, CB Patrick Peterson  

Chizik is up first. I passed him in the lobby, and his chin looked freshly waxed and buffed, ready for battle or knocking down a sturdy door. His chin really could double as a SWAT team battering ram in a pinch. 

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